What Scientists Ignore About Climate Change
All-time record temperatures
in Paris, fires in the Amazon,
Mississippi River flooding,
the Maldives underwater . . .
Everywhere we turn, we hear
warnings about serious threats to life
on earth. With each report, extremists
demand immediate, drastic government
measures to slow down climate
change before it is too late.
Most stories lay the blame squarely
on us humans, particularly on carbon
dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas produced
by our burning coal, oil, or natural
gas. In their zeal to protect the environment,
however, few activists stop to
question the data that supposedly links
human activity to a rise in global temperature
or to a rise in the frequency
and intensity of extreme weather
events. Even fewer have taken the time
to consider how proposed restrictions
on fossil fuels could make life more difficult,
especially for the poor.
Those of us in affluent societies tend
to forget that the standard of living all
over the world is directly related to the
availability of affordable energy. While
the cost of renewable energy like solar
panels and wind turbines is declining
rapidly, it will be years before they are
widely available at a reasonable cost.
With so much at stake, we must
analyze the scientific data evenhandedly.
If a problem exists with human
production of CO2, we must carefully
consider the consequences of our proposed
To be sure, a dramatic increase in
global temperatures and extreme
weather events—drought, fires, hurricanes,
floods, and the like—would be
devastating for life on planet earth,
causing loss of human life, property,
and crops. But before we join the stampede
to restructure how the world
generates energy, Christians need to
weigh factors that secular experts
often overlook because they don’t
share our biblical worldview.
God Has a Plan and a Purpose for the Earth
It is easy for us as Christians to get
so tied up in our daily trials that we
forget about the higher purposes of the
One who created this world. God cares
deeply about the earth and its climate.
The earth is actually mentioned in the
Bible’s very first verse: “In the beginning,
God created the heavens and the
earth” (Genesis 1:1).
God had a plan and a purpose for the
earth long before he created anything,
but he placed mankind at the center
of his plan (Acts 17:24–27). While the
earth and its climate are important,
human beings made in his own image
are of much greater importance to
God. The earth was created to be a safe
home for human beings and a place
where we would share with God the
responsibility of caring for the earth
But God didn’t create everything
and then go on vacation. He is actively
holding his creation together all the
time (Colossians 1:16–17). After Noah’s
flood, God promised the earth would
remain habitable until the end of time:
“While the earth remains, seedtime
and harvest, cold and heat, summer
and winter, day and night, shall not
cease” (Genesis 8:22).
So before we begin weighing the
complexities of what might cause
global warming or extreme weather
events, we must first recognize several
fundamental truths: God’s supernatural
creation of the earth and those created
in his image; his promise that the earth
will remain habitable; and his intention
to fulfill his higher purposes.
Our Limited Understanding of God’s Ordained Cycles
According to the secular ‘‘no God”
story, the earth somehow was formed
about 4.5 billion years ago as a molten
mass, and it cooled over about 200 million
years. Secular scientists still struggle
to explain the source of the water
in earth’s life-giving oceans, since it
could not have been there in the beginning.
According to their view, all the
changes necessary to evolve a watery
world suitable for life were unguided
and completely random. Consequently,
they fear the earth’s life-support systems
could easily get out of control and
become hostile to life.
In contrast, God’s Word says the
earth was covered with water from creation,
and the water obeyed God’s command
(Genesis 1:2; Proverbs 8:28–29;
2 Peter 3:5). Unlike other celestial
objects, our planet is covered with about
326 quintillion gallons of life-sustaining
water on its surface, regulating our climate
and providing for our needs. The
prophet Isaiah describes the water cycle
beautifully, as it fulfills God’s wish to
nourish life (Isaiah 55:10–11).
The water cycle explains much of
how our climate works, but we still
don’t understand many details even
today. The most advanced climate
models still cannot accurately predict
how clouds affect earth’s temperature.
Thousands of years ago, Job acknowledged
Behold, God is great, and we know
him not; the number of his years
is unsearchable. For he draws up
the drops of water; they distill
his mist in rain, which the skies
pour down and drop on mankind
abundantly. Can anyone understand
the spreading of the clouds,
the thunderings of his pavilion?
We have long understood that water
is integral to moderating the earth’s
climate by readily transferring the
heat from the sun around our planet.
However, until very recently, water’s
role as a greenhouse gas has been a well-kept
secret in contemporary climate
debates. The naturally occurring water
vapor in the atmosphere has a much
greater greenhouse gas effect than the
CO2 from our cars and factories.
In simple terms, greenhouse gases
act like a winter blanket over the earth,
holding in some of the heat that would
otherwise be lost. Without the presence
of water in our atmosphere and
its greenhouse effect, earth’s climate
would likely be too cold to sustain life.
This inconvenient fact weakens the
argument for immediate action on climate
change. Water molecules are brilliantly
designed for maintaining a temperate
climate. Before we look at the
influence of man-made CO2 on climate,
we must first recognize that the earth
has many complex systems in place
clearly designed to keep us warm. Our
climate is miraculously stable, given
that the earth is surrounded by cold,
What Is Our Responsibility?
Just because God has designed a
marvelous system to maintain a warm
earth doesn’t absolve humans of their
responsibilities. What is our duty?
According to the Bible, we are to
have dominion over the earth (Genesis
1:26, 28). Most take this to mean that
we have stewardship over the earth.
In this case, it is prudent that we do
scientific investigations to know how
our climate is changing. We should
evaluate these facts from a biblical
perspective. If we find that our actions
are truly detrimental to the earth,
and particularly to its inhabitants, we
should change what we are doing.
Should We Be Concerned About the Rise in Temperatures?
Scientists agree on the facts, which
we observe and measure. It is certainly
true that the earth’s temperature has
been rising over the past few centuries
since the little ice age of about AD
1300–1850. It is also true that CO2 does
act as a greenhouse gas and is therefore
capable of raising the temperature
of the earth. It is even true that the
concentration of CO2 has been rising
for several decades.
But just because CO2 and temperature
have been rising together for quite
a while doesn’t automatically prove one
caused the other. That’s the great challenge
in scientific research—to determine
what are the true causes of the
changes we observe. In this case, that
boils down to answering the question,
“Is CO2 the predominant cause of the
current change in the climate?” This is
not easy to answer because we have so
much more to learn about many factors
that influence our climate.
Notice in Figure 1 that the concentration
of CO2 in the atmosphere has not
always correlated with the earth’s temperature.1 From AD 1000 to 1300, for
instance, global temperature declined
while CO2 remained fairly constant.
The earth’s temperature also began to
rise about 100 years before the carbon
dioxide did. Our understanding of this
relationship is far from absolute, as
many people claim. If it were absolute,
the two lines would correlate over the
entire length of time.
When pondering this issue, keep in
mind that human beings are responsible
for a fraction of the total amount of
CO2 in the atmosphere, not the entire
amount. Climate experts are doing
their best—with the help of an armada
of advanced satellites and computers—to separate all these factors that
affect global temperature. Most now
claim that the models are sophisticated
enough to prove that mankind
is the predominant cause of the latest
rise in the earth’s temperature. But we
still have ample reason to question
these conclusions, which many say
should not be questioned, because of
the poor correlation between CO2 and
temperature (shown in Figure 1) and
the broad range of future temperature
increases that current mathematical
What About Extreme Weather Events?
In the discussion of human-caused
climate change, one of the most popular
claims is the increasing number
of extreme weather events, such as
hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and
floods. But has the frequency of these
events actually changed, and does it
correlate to the rising amount of CO2?
Advocates of immediate, drastic
action often latch onto any extreme
weather event and claim that it was
caused by climate change. But a growing
new field known as attribution
science is attempting to develop a statistical
way to connect a particular
rare event to a particular cause. To
establish a connection, the statistician
must look at a sufficiently long period
of time and a sufficient number of similar,
rare events (not a single event). For
example, this year researchers completed
a long-term analysis (over 100
years) looking for any relationships
between the increase in hurricanes in
the Atlantic and the rise in the earth’s
temperature. They found no significant
correlation. The authors concluded,
“In short, the historical Atlantic hurricane
frequency record does not provide
compelling evidence for a substantial
greenhouse warming-induced long-term
“The chaotic nature of weather
means that it is generally impossible to
say, for any specific event, that it would
not have occurred in the absence of
human influence on climate,” explains
Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute,
which is spearheading the development
of these statistical tools. “In a
simple analogy, a dice may be loaded to
come up six, but a six could have come
up anyway without the loading.”3
The correlation between human
activity and extreme weather events
seems to be much more tenuous than
the correlation between human activity
and higher global temperatures.
Everything Is Politics
No matter how much scientific data
we collect or how successful future
models become at attributing blame for
climate change, they do not tell us what
we should do. The underlying issues
are moral and political, not scientific.
Should we waste natural resources,
such as fossil fuels, or wantonly pollute
God’s earth? Of course not! We don’t
need a scientific study to tell us this.
We should be good stewards right now
because our worldview tells us so—whether we are Christians who believe
God is the owner of creation or are secular
humanists who are concerned about
self-preservation. Science is just a tool to
help us understand the world around us
and the consequences of our actions.
What if it becomes clear in the
future that burning fossil fuels is
seriously harming life on this planet?
We must weigh many complex moral
factors based on our worldview. That
includes weighing the effects on people.
What suffering would a lack of
affordable energy cause to millions,
even billions, of people worldwide?
Who has the authority to make such
As fellow humans made in God’s
image, we can all share many common
concerns. Both Christians and
non-Christians agree that we have
a responsibility to care for the earth
(Genesis 1:26, 28). Most people would
acknowledge that we must be careful
because of mankind’s tendency
to act selfishly and abuse power. And
most are wary of unintended consequences
of political decisions even if
our motives are pure.
Yet Christians will never be on the
same page with non-Christians because
we have such radically different starting
points. The key to interpreting
the scientific data and determining
whether the earth’s climate is out of
control is found in the light of God’s
Word. Without this starting point, people
will reach radically different conclusions
about the state of our climate and
what, if anything, needs to be done.
Those with a secular view have
good reason to be concerned about
rising temperatures. In their view, the
earth’s climate is uncontrolled and
dangerous, and humans are the only
ones who can do anything about it.
In a biblical view, by contrast, God
designed the earth and our climate,
and he is actively sustaining creation.
Though the temperature of the earth
will fluctuate, the Creator has promised
that the climate will remain suitable
for human life until he creates a new
heaven and a new earth (Genesis 8:22).
Christians can be a voice of reason
and hope to a frightened world. We
should point people to the wisdom
found in God’s Word, which shows us
how to tackle daily challenges as well
as the eternal issues that matter most.
Through it all, we can be confident
that God will keep his promises. He
always has. He always will.
Harvard University. He worked for 30 years at Eastman
Chemical Company, has been granted 45 US patents, and is
an author on 18 scientific publications. He now writes and
speaks on creation science.
SourceThis article originally appeared on answersingenesis.org